Leave the car to discover your area
How well do you really know your neighbourhood? Erin Reilly has some suggestions on how you can improve your knowledge.
The other day I went for a bush walk in a reserve that I had no idea existed.
The worst thing was that I had lived literally just around the corner from this beautiful spot for four years; our apartment had views over the top of the trees I walked beneath.
This got me thinking. How well do we really know our neighbourhoods? It’s possible that I’m an anomaly here, but I would suggest that it’s common to get so caught up in the day-to-day of life that we’re sometimes blinded to what’s around us.
Work stresses, commuting times, money worries and family dramas all compete for our attention, and sometimes it’s just easier to blob out in front of the telly instead of connecting with our communities.
If I had wings, I’m sure I would have discovered this reserve. I don’t. What I do have, though, is Google Maps. Examining a map of your local area is a great way to find your feet, especially if you’ve just moved there. See a mass of green? It’s probably a park. See some blue? That’s water of some description. Zoom in to find where walkways start and where the easiest place to park is.
Which brings me to my next point. Leave the car at home. The easiest way to discover hidden treasures in your neighbourhood is to explore it by foot. Use your mornings or evenings to blow out the cobwebs by wandering the streets and meeting your neighbours while getting the heart rate up at the same time.
You might stumble across hidden parks or secret walkways between streets, free-for-all fruit trees or a community garden, or a group of ‘‘non-runners’’ training for a half-marathon together. These are the kinds of things that don’t appear on Google Maps, but are indicative of a strong and connected neighbourhood. Next time you’re invited to a quiz night, go. Attending a community event is the easiest way to meet people and feel connected. Schools and local organisations are the backbone of any community, so if there’s an opportunity to help them out, take it.
Of course, just turning up to community events when you don’t know anyone can be daunting. That’s why a platform like Neighbourly is so great. Connect with your neighbours, find out about upcoming events, discover free-for-all fruit trees, community gardens or ‘‘nonrunner’’ running clubs, and put names to the faces of the people you see over the fence. And the best bit is it’s totally free and safe; only people who live nearby and are address-verified can access your neighbourhood’s Neighbourly page.
Life is for living, not for passing you by. Get involved in your community and make a difference to yourself and the people around you.
Check out Google Maps to find great walks in your neighbourhood.